Nine Inch Nails

From Academic Kids

Missing image
With Teeth album cover

Nine Inch Nails (NIN) is a critically and commercially successful American band formed in Cleveland, Ohio in 1988 by Trent Reznor.



Axcess magazine interviewed Reznor after the release of The Downward Spiral in 1994. They asked him how he came up with the name Nine Inch Nails and this was his reply:

"I don't know if you've ever tried to think of band names, but usually you think you have a great one and you look at it the next day and it's stupid. I had about 200 of those. Nine Inch Nails lasted the two week test, looked great in print, and could be abbreviated easily. It really doesn't have any literal meaning. It seemed kind of frightening. [In his best he-man voice] Tough and manly! It's a curse trying to come up with band names." [1] (

The Nine Inch Nails "NIN" logo was designed so that Trent Reznor could have a design that in his own words "looked cool on my leather jacket." It is also interesting to note that the font used in the "NIN" logo was modeled after the font used in the album art for the Talking Heads' album Remain In Light. (disputed)


NIN's sound has variously been described as alternative, electronica, heavy metal, rock, synth pop, or, most commonly, industrial. Regarding his music being categorized as industrial, Reznor had this to say in a 1994 Axcess magazine interview:

"What was originally called industrial music was about 20 years ago Throbbing Gristle and Test Dept. We have very little to do with it other than there is noise in my music and there is noise in theirs. I'm working in the context of a pop song structure whereas those bands didn't. And because someone didn't come up with a new name that separates those two somewhat unrelated genres, it tends to irritate all the old school fans waving their flags of alternativeness and obscurity. So, I'd say I've borrowed from certain styles and bands like that." [2] (

NIN's songs cover a range of genres; as a body of work, they cannot be pigeonholed. "The Perfect Drug" has the flavor of drum and bass, vocals in "Down in It" seem influenced by early rap & hip-hop, "Happiness in Slavery" is in the vein of Skinny Puppy and Ministry, "The Frail" is a melancholy piano piece, and most of Pretty Hate Machine could be considered dark synth pop.


Pretty Hate Machine

NIN's debut album, Pretty Hate Machine (1989), largely consists of studio versions of demo recordings. This was also NIN's first collaboration with producer Mark Ellis a.k.a. Flood. It went triple platinum in the US and produced the singles "Head Like a Hole," "Down in It" and "Sin". Music videos were made for these three tracks, but the one for "Sin" was never released to the public, due to video never being finished. However, since 1997 this video has been available on Halo 12.


NIN's second major release was Broken (1992), an EP of six tracks plus two bonus tracks. It was originally released in a fold-out format, containing the first six tracks on a regular CD and an additional three-inch minidisc with the remaining bonus tracks. It was later released as one CD, with the bonus songs as "hidden" tracks 98 and 99. The song "Wish", aided by the video directed by Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson of Coil, won a Grammy in the "metal" category. Jon Reiss directed a music video for "Happiness in Slavery," which was universally banned due to its graphic content. The video depicts performance artist Bob Flanagan strapping himself to a machine that subsequently pleasures, tortures and kills him. A video for "Pinion" aired twice on MTV before being banned for its objectionable content, although images from it did become a fixture in the opening title sequence of the MTV show 120 Minutes. A full length video informally called The Broken Movie was also made by Sleazy, but has not seen an official release. Broken was followed by the remix EP Fixed.

The Downward Spiral

NIN's second full album and third major release was The Downward Spiral (1994). This was NIN's second collaboration with Mark Ellis (Flood). It went quadruple platinum and is often considered by critics to be NIN's best work. There were two singles released, "March of the Pigs", "Closer", "Hurt" was sent to radio only, but never released as a single, and "piggy" was also only sent to radio. Music videos were made for the singles "March of the Pigs", "Closer", and "Hurt", with the edited MTV version of "Closer" becoming very successful. The album's final track, "Hurt", would enjoy success once again when it was covered, with slight alterations to the lyrics, by Johnny Cash in 2003. The Downward Spiral was followed by the remix EP Further Down the Spiral. A remastered version of the album was released on November 23, 2004, with an accompanying CD of b-sides and rarities. The Remaster was also released as a two-sided DualDisc Format The SACD edition of the remastered album featured multichannel and stereo SACD versions of the album as well as a remastered standard CD layer, disc 2 featured stereo SACD and standard CD layers. The DualDisc contains a remastered CD-Audio on one side and features a DVD-Audio format side containing High Resolution Stereo and 5.1 Surround mixes of the entire album with expanded album art, a discography and Music Videos [Closer(in Stereo & 5.1 audio), March of the Pigs, and Hurt]

The Fragile

NIN's fourth major release was the two-disk album The Fragile (1999). It produced three singles, one released in the US ("The Day the World Went Away"), one

With Teeth

NIN's fifth major release, With Teeth (2005), was written and recorded following Reznor's painful battle with alcohol addiction and substance abuse. The music video for the first single, "The Hand That Feeds" premiered on the official NIN website ( rather than on the traditional music video channel. The album was leaked before its official release. It was officially released on May 3, 2005 in a DualDisc format as well as CD-Audio. Though the new album lacks any liner notes, ( features access to download a digital PDF Poster full of lush artwork and stylized liner notes and lyrics. The single was also released in a format for Garageband so that it could be remixied by anyone with the program. The band also allowed the entire album to be listened to in streaming audio at Myspace beginning April 27, 2005. Myspace NIN album streaming audio (

Nine Inch Nails dropped out of the 2005 MTV Video Movie Awards show because of a disagreement with MTV over the use of an image of George W. Bush as a backdrop to the band's performance of "The Hand That Feeds", which includes such lyrics as:

What if this whole crusade's a charade
And behind it all there's a price to be paid
For the blood on which we dine
Justified in the name of the holy and the divine

"Apparently, the image of our president is as offensive to MTV as it is to me," Trent Reznor said. They were replaced on the show by Foo Fighters.

In fall 2005, the group will be supporting Queens of the Stone Age on their North American tour of Lullabies to Paralyze.

Official NIN releases

Each Nine Inch Nails release is given a sequential number, with the word "Halo" preceding it (eg. The Downward Spiral is also known as Halo 8). Many independent and new wave records follow similar numbering schemes. Official halos are as follows (colors denote main album eras):

Halo Released Title Type Highest chart position
1 September 15, 1989 Down in It Single
2 October 20, 1989 Pretty Hate Machine LP #75 (US Billboard 200, #67 UK Albums Chart)
3 March 22, 1990 Head Like a Hole Maxi-Single #45 (UK Singles Chart)
4 October 10, 1990 Sin Single #35 (UK)
5 September 22, 1992 Broken EP #7 (US Billboard 200), #18 (UK Albums Chart)
6 December 7, 1992 Fixed EP; remix album
7 February 25, 1994 March of the Pigs Single #59 (US Billboard Hot 100), #45 (UK)
8 March 8, 1994 The Downward Spiral LP #2 (US Billboard 200), #9 (UK)
8 DE November 23, 2004 The Downward Spiral: Deluxe Edition Double Hybrid SACD
8 DVD-A November 23, 2004 The Downward Spiral: DualDisc DVD-A/CD
9 May 30, 1994 Closer Single #41 (US Billboard Hot 100), #25 (UK), #3 (Australian ARIAnet Singles Chart)
10 June 1, 1995 Further Down the Spiral EP (US Release) #23 (US Billboard 200)
10v2 May 30, 1995 Further Down the Spiral EP (UK Release)
11 May 13, 1997 "The Perfect Drug" Versions EP #46 (US Billboard Hot 100), #43 (UK), #48 (Australia)
12 November 24, 1997 Closure Double VHS
13 July 20, 1999 The Day the World Went Away Single #17 (US Billboard Hot 100), #31 (Australia)
14 September 21, 1999 The Fragile Double LP #1 (US Billboard 200), #9 (UK)
15 December 6, 1999 We're in This Together 3-Disc Single (EU Release) #39 (UK)
16 November 21, 2000 Things Falling Apart Remix LP (not official LP) #67 (US Billboard 200)
17 January 22, 2002 And All That Could Have Been Double LP + Double DVD #37 (US Billboard 200)
18 April 18, 2005 The Hand That Feeds Single (EU Release) #31 (US Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart - charted due to airplay), #7 (UK)
19 May 3, 2005 With Teeth LP #1 (US Billboard 200), #3 UK Albums Chart, #10 (Australian ARIAnet Albums Chart)
19 DVD-A May 3, 2005 With Teeth: DualDisc DVD-A/CD
20 July 19, 2005 Only Single

Many of these releases are now out of print. Halo 1, Halo 2, Halo 3 and Halo 4 are out of print due to Reznor's conflict with his former label TVT Records. Halo 13, Halo 15 are also out of print. When any of these will be back in print is unknown.

Still from Halo 17 is now re-available Nine Inch Nails's online merchandise store. The fans rejoiced at this announcement.

In Australia, a single for Into the Void was released as Halo 16. This single was released about ten months before the release of the Halo 16 remix album Things Falling Apart, most people do not consider the Into the Void single an "official halo". It is also not mentioned on the body of work ( section.

Music videos

Song Director Released Notes
"Down in It" Eric Zimmerman & Benjamin Stokes September 1989  
"Head Like a Hole" Eric Zimmerman March 1990  
"Sin" Brett Turnbull November 24, 1997 never aired (on Halo 12)
"Pinion" Eric Goode & Serge Becker February 1992  
"Wish" Peter Christopherson February 1992  
"Help Me I Am In Hell" Eric Goode & Serge Becker November 24, 1997 never aired (on Halo 12)
"Happiness in Slavery" Jon Reiss November 24, 1997 never aired (on Halo 12)
"Gave Up" Jon Reiss November 24, 1997 never aired (on Halo 12)
"Wish (live)" Simon Maxwell November 24, 1997 aired on 120 minutes (also on Halo 12)
"March of the Pigs" Peter Christopherson March, 1994  
"Closer" Mark Romanek May 12, 1994  
"Burn" Hank Corwin & Trent Reznor August 24, 1994 for Natural Born Killers
"Hurt (live)" Simon Maxwell March, 1995  
"The Perfect Drug" Mark Romanek January 18, 1997 for Lost Highway
"Eraser (live)" Simon Maxwell November 24, 1997 never aired (on Halo 12)
"We're In This Together" Mark Pellington August 27, 1999  
"Into the Void" Walter Stern & Jeff Richter January 14, 2000  
"Starsuckers, Inc." Robert Hales & Marilyn Manson May 2, 2000 edit of "Starfuckers, Inc."
"Deep" Enda McCallion August, 2001 for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
"The Hand That Feeds" Rob Sheridan March 17, 2005 released on (
"Only" David Fincher June, 2005 (shooting April 19, 2005)

Broken, the unreleased short film directed by Peter Christopherson, contains the videos for "Pinion", "Wish" and "Happiness in Slavery". It also features the song "Help Me I Am in Hell", set to a black screen, and the song "Gave Up", set to scenes within the film. In colloquial usage it is commonly referred to as, "the Broken Movie."

Other NIN works

Woodstock '94

NIN's mud-soaked performance at Woodstock '94 is one of their most famous moments. The band earned a Grammy for "Best Metal Performance" for their live performance of "Happiness in Slavery" when it was included on the 1996 Woodstock '94 double CD set. The performance was also released as a bootleg album known as "When The Whip Comes Down."


NIN created the ambient music for id Software's computer game Quake in 1996. As a tribute to this, the programmers of the game included a nail gun as a weapon, whose ammo boxes bore the NIN logo. This music was available as audio tracks on the Quake CD.

Doom 3

Chris Vrenna, formerly of NIN, created the intro for the popular video game for id Software. John Carmack, the lead programmer for id Software, wanted to work with Reznor for additional in-game music, but due to management problems courtesy of John Malm (Reznor's former manager), he was unable to allot time for studio work for the new ambient soundtrack. Trent Reznor's sound and music files for Doom 3 have been rumored to be floating around the internet.


For remixes credited to Trent Reznor, see the "Remixes" section of the Trent Reznor article.

Songs for film soundtracks

Unreleased songs

A number of NIN songs are not available on any of the official releases. Some can be found on bootleg CDs, but others have only been performed live.

  • "Theme from the Right Track" - instrumental track from Reznor's sessions at the Right Track studios.
  • "Slate/Sanctified Intro" - introduction to Purest Feeling, which was the demo for Pretty Hate Machine, in which "Sanctified" led off the album.
  • "Purest Feeling" - Pretty Hate Machine reject.
  • "Maybe Just Once" - Pretty Hate Machine reject.
  • "Twist" - demo version of "Ringfinger".
  • "Now I'm Nothing" - track performed live between the releases of Pretty Hate Machine and Broken, used as an introduction to "Terrible Lie". Some of the lyrics were worked into "Gave Up" from Broken. This was never recorded in the studio.
  • "Last (Butch Vig Remix)" - rejected remix by Butch Vig for Fixed.
  • "Red Scab" - performed live in 1995 with Adam Ant, a cover of his track of the same name.
  • "Beat My Guest" - performed live in 1995 with Adam Ant, a cover of his track of the same name.
  • "Scary Monsters" - performed live in 1995 with David Bowie on the Outside Tour.
  • "Hurt (With David Bowie)" - performed live in 1995 with David Bowie on the Outside Tour.

Reznor's other works

More information on Reznor's work outside of Nine Inch Nails can be found in the Trent Reznor entry.

Future NIN releases

A post-With Teeth album has already been started. According to Reznor, "There is another record in the works that I hope to release in a timely fashion." [3] ( Reznor has mentioned that he has more new songs created than appear on With Teeth. One of these songs may be "My Dead Friend", a song announced by Reznor in 2003 when With Teeth was known as Bleedthrough.

Reznor is not planning to release any remix albums for With Teeth. [4] ( (see: Fixed, Further Down the Spiral or Things Falling Apart)

A DVD version of Closure is forthcoming, pending the resolution of some legal troubles.

In a response to a question on the official NIN website (, Reznor indicated that he would like to release surround sound versions of Pretty Hate Machine and The Fragile, similar to what was done for the 10th anniversary editions of The Downward Spiral. More than likely, Reznor will need to finish the tour for With Teeth before he can find time to work on this project.


RIAA Gold albums

  • Pretty Hate Machine certified gold (March, 1992)
  • Broken certified gold (November or December, 1992)
  • The Downward Spiral certified gold (April, 1994)
  • The Downward Spiral certified platinum (October, 1994)
  • Pretty Hate Machine certified platinum (March, 1995)
  • Pretty Hate Machine certified double platinum (July, 1995)
  • The Downward Spiral certified double platinum (September, 1995)
  • Further Down the Spiral certified gold (June, 1996)
  • The Downward Spiral certified quadruple platinum (October, 1998)
  • The Fragile certified platinum (October, 1999)
  • The Fragile certified double platinum (January, 2000)
  • Pretty Hate Machine certified triple platinum (May 12, 2003)

American Music Awards

  • Nine Inch Nails nominated for "Favorite Alternative Artist" (January 30, 1995)
  • Nine Inch Nails nominated for "Favorite Alternative Artist" (January 29, 1996)

Billboard Music Awards

  • "Starfuckers, Inc." from the "Lost Highway" O.S.T. nominated for "Best Modern Rock Clip of the Year" (December 5, 2000)

Grammy Awards

MTV Video Music Awards


Trent Reznor is the only official member of the band. He assembles different producers, engineers and musicians to assist him in creating new songs, though Reznor writes all of the lyrics himself and is in sole control of the direction of the band. Similarly, Reznor assembles a live backing band for each NIN tour.

Live band members

Hate '90 Tour (1990)

Self Destruct Tours (1994 - 1995)

Outside Tour with David Bowie (September - October, 1995)

Fragility Tours (1999 - 2000)

With Teeth Tour (2005 - ????)


In their early days, NIN used Phantasy as a practice space and it was home for several of their first concerts.

Director Tony Scott has used Nine Inch Nails music in two of his films to date. The Fan featured a clip from "The Art of Self Destruction, Part One" from Further Down the Spiral. Man on Fire featured clips from six Nine Inch Nails songs: "The Art of Self Destruction, Part One", "Self Destruction, Part Two", and "The Downward Spiral (the bottom)" from Further Down the Spiral; "The Mark Has Been Made" and "The Great Below" from The Fragile; and "The Wretched" from Things Falling Apart. Reznor himself received a "Music Consultant" credit on the film.

The credit sequence for the David Fincher film Seven uses the NIN song "Closer (precursor)". Surprisingly, this was done without seeking permission, though NIN is credited in the end credits for the song.

Final Destination used "Into the Void" in its soundtrack.

The entire 2005 US Club tour sold out in under 10 minutes, with tickets selling on eBay and other sources for more than $200.

To date, Trent Reznor claims he has no tattoos of any kind. He does however, have both of his ears pierced and had his septum pierced briefly. He stated "... it was a nightmare whenever I had a cold!"

While obviously not limiting himself to Apple Computers, Reznor does own a PC (mostly for gaming, among many other things), although he exclusively prefers an Apple. Reznor was relatively new to PC games: He's a die-hard Mac man. "I was never aware of what was going on in the PC world until someone showed me Castle Wolfenstein 3D," he admits. "I'd never gone near a PC; that's a bad word around the studio. We're all Mac people, since most of the music software is written for Mac. But when I saw Wolfenstein I went out and bought whatever it was at the time, 386, 486, and we got hooked. The sense of being immersed in the game really struck a chord with me. And when we were rehearsing for the downward spiral tour, Doom came out, and I was like, 'Oh my god.' So now every six months a major [PC] upgrade goes on around here." Trent is obsessed when it comes to video games. During tours the band would sometimes be deathmatching on Quake in a makeshift LAN or Trent would be playing anything he would get his hands on in a dressing room or bus, whether it was a Super Nintendo or a Sega Genesis

Trent Reznor is a sci-fi and horror fanatic, often sampling movie sound bytes for his music, including THX 1138 and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, among countless others. Among many books that he has read, The Lathe of Heaven is one of his personal favorites and is thought to be an indirect inspiration for some of the songs on With Teeth. The horror film classic The Exorcist has "...ruined my childhood", he says. "It was the ultimate scare thing because it couldn't easily be disproved." He also loved the tv show Six Million Dollar Man, "probably because I wasn't the biggest kid in the class and I wasn't the athletic superstar football player. I always thought he was cool. The day the Bionic Woman died on The Six Million Dollar Man, that was a tearful day in our household." He considers this. "When I think back, I had a degree of feeling mildly depressed; of melancholiness."

See also

External links


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